Regarding the article “In Santa Barbara, Latinos Are Veering off College Path,” I wanted to add another point of information. We do not know how many SBCC students intend to transfer to a four-year institution, how many successfully transfer, or how many of those actually graduate with a bachelor’s degree. We know how many students graduate having met the transfer requirements, nothing more. Intentions and other outcomes are not currently tracked. This lack of data also prevents us from comparing first-generation, Latinos, or any other subset, to a norm. I strongly suspect data would provide additional evidence our Latinx students are falling behind their Caucasian peers in these areas as well.

National data indicates that first-generation college students who attend a four-year school directly are more likely to complete a bachelor’s degree. Those who start at a community college have a lower rate of persistence. Economically speaking, those with “some college” average a salary of $38,376, an associate’s degree $41,496, and a bachelor’s degree $59,124. The lifetime disadvantage is clear.

I am not arguing against the SBCC Promise Program at all. What I wish to raise is that our high schools need more support to effectively counsel all students on their options. Four hundred-plus students assigned to a single counselor is not a recipe for college success. Especially when counselors deal with everything from a student experiencing a crisis to the kid headed to Stanford. Counselors also deserve more information. UCs and CSUs are not always the most affordable options! Here is what I mean:

Sticker price for 2018-19 school year:
UCLA $32,452, CSULA $26,134 Santa Clara U (private) $71,778

Four-year graduation rate (not a given, US News uses 6 year rate)
UCLA 78%, CSULA 7%, Santa Clara 87.3%
Remember, additional years equal both more cost and lost salary wages from a job you can’t get without the degree.

Average debt at graduation:
UCLA $21, 323, CSULA $23.376, Santa Clara U $26,676

Average starting salary according to
UCLA $57,456, CSULA $62,213, Santa Clara U $74,915.

Santa Clara may have the biggest sticker price, but it is the best deal in the end. Few college grads understand this, let alone first-gen students who are often navigating this process alone.

There are so many nuances to planning for and applying to college. Our students deserve guides who understand the process and know what questions to ask and don’t automatically point them towards the public options only.

I look forward to watching the school board, local non-profits, SBCC, UCSB, and everyone else with a vested interest in this issue work towards a game-changing solution.

Holly McCord Duncan owns Smart College Admission and is the parent of two SBUSD students.


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